Drivers detouring round border checkpoint stuck in mud south of Cunnamulla

Drivers avoiding a border checkpoint on the Mitchell Highway at Barringun, south of Cunnamulla, have had to walk for hours to seek police help after becoming bogged.
Drivers avoiding a border checkpoint on the Mitchell Highway at Barringun, south of Cunnamulla, have had to walk for hours to seek police help after becoming bogged.

Boggy roads have unintentionally become a natural roadblock for people crossing the state border around Cunnamulla in Queensland's south west, highlighting a need for further education on differences in state quarantine rules.

One driver escaped his bogged car and walked nine hours to a border checkpoint. Another in the same situation worked four hours.

Police stationed at Cunnamulla have reported two incidents in the last fortnight where people trying to cross the border into New South Wales on roads other than the Mitchell Highway crossing at Barringun became bogged and had to walk for hours for help.

The first occurred on Easter Saturday, April 10 when a man, travelling from Airlie Beach to South Australia, used Google Maps to take an alternate route south of Cunnamulla via the Thurulgoona Road.

Senior Sergeant Isa Tolete said because of soft road conditions after recent flooding, the man's two-wheel-drive car became bogged.

After walking for nine hours he reached the border checkpoint in a very dehydrated state and was admitted to hospital at Cunnamulla for 24 hours.

In a separate incident on April 16 a 26-year-old male travelling from Cloncurry to Bourke became bogged under similar circumstances.

According to Sergeant Tolete, he managed to put in a 000 call and reach Cunnamulla police, but had still walked for four hours.

"Our crew located him after some searching - he wasn't looking too good either," Sergeant Tolete said.

He was unwilling to speculate on the reason for the drivers' diversions around the border checkpoint, saying his first priority was to make sure of their health and safety.

As a result of the incidents, a Queensland Police taskforce will be making an approach to Google Maps to try and ensure future travellers aren't rerouted off the main highway.

The odd things police see on patrol. Photo: Queensland Police

The odd things police see on patrol. Photo: Queensland Police

With Paroo Shire Council assistance, signage advising of temporary road closures have also been erected at the Otantis and Bluegrass Road turnoffs.

Sergeant Tolete encouraged travellers wanting to cross any of Queensland's borders to check the relevant rules for each state and see what was in place.

"There are no restrictions on travel into NSW," he said.

Cunnamulla's two bogged drivers are among 100,000 vehicles that have been checked at Queensland border crossings in the last four weeks.

According to a Queensland Police media report, frontline officers deployed to far-reaching corners of the state are remaining positive, professional and good-humoured despite often being confronted with treacherous conditions as they help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Police from Mount Isa have shared vision of plagues of gidyea bugs, or "stink bugs" crawling over trailers and crunching under police cars.

To stay warm at night during patrols, officers from Camooweal started a fire pit and were joined by their Northern Territory counterparts along with Australian Federal Police and Australian Defence Force personnel, forming close bonds beyond the border.

Officers from the Gold Coast Rapid Action Patrol enjoyed a laugh at one innovative motorcyclist who took a more streamlined approach to crossing over from New South Wales by copying his border pass onto his T-shirt.

The early stages of the restrictions proved more difficult for some to come to terms with - in particular, a 31-year-old Palm Beach man stopped at Tugun on April 8 with 93 kilos of cannabis located inside his Ford Ranger as well as $4300 in cash.

The last time restrictions were introduced between the Queensland - New South Wales border was in 1919 when a barbed-wire fence was built at Coolangatta to prevent the spread of Spanish Flu.

State Disaster coordinator Steve Gollschewski acknowledged the efforts of all personnel for their commitment and diligence while securing the state's borders.

"The reason Queensland is achieving promising outcomes is because of what measures we have put in place, not in spite of them," he said.

"I am continually impressed by the standard set by our frontline officers and partner agencies during this pandemic and encourage everyone to keep supporting each other during and beyond these uncertain times.

"We would also like to commend motorists for their continued patience and cooperation when crossing the border. Without their understanding our jobs would be much more difficult."

This story Driver walks nine hours to safety after being bogged at Qld border first appeared on Queensland Country Life.